New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
The clock is ticking: 32 lucky students will be presented with Hellenic Times scholarships on May 12, making their dreams reality. Scores of people will be watching and star entertainment, great food, and dancing will celebrate that event at the 21st Anniversary Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund Gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan.
As of this writing, over 1,000 tickets have been sold to celebrate at an evening that could just as well be named the Fabulous Fun Gala because it’s the year’s most glamorous party. But the Gala is glamorous-with-a-purpose: over the past two decades, the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund has awarded scholarships in excess of two million dollars to over eight hundred of the brightest Greek-American students in the nation. Now that’s hot.
It is a labor of love for Margo Catsimatidis, General Chair of the event together with John Catsimatidis, and co-producer of the Hellenic Times and advertising executive, to choose the recipients of the HTSF scholarships every year, and “it also is always a challenge, as they are all worthy and qualified,” she told the GN, “Each year brings new challenges, but after doing this for so many years with such a wonderful team behind us, we are able to take each new challenge and not only overcome it, but bring the results to the next level.”
Furthermore, as John Catsimatidis, Chairman and CEO of the Red Apple Group, points out, the HTSF scholarships promote another kind of success in addition to providing necessary funding for the recipients to continue their studies and the recognition they deserve, “It’s a “two-for”! Over the last 20 years of the existence of the HTSF scholarships we’ve had over a thousand marriages of kids meeting each other here, which is the greatest part of the event.”
The HTSF is more important now than it was 20 years ago, not only because of the current economic climate, but because the HTSF endeavors to ensure that the Greek cultural legacy is preserved in our community.
The Gala will feature top performers: Greek sensations Yiannis Ploutarxos, Kalomira, and Grammy-nominated vocalist Maxine Nightingale. Other noteworthy guests will be Fox News anchor Ernie Anastos, Fox 5 chief meteorologist Nick Gregory, Tony nominated actor and American Idol alum Constantine Maroulis, and actor Gilles Marini from Dancing With the Stars.
This year’s Honorees are Dennis Mehiel, Chairman and CEO of US Corrugated, Inc. who will be the recipient of the Leadership Humanitarian Award, and Mike Emanuel, Chief Congressional Correspondent from Fox News, recipient of the Media Achievement Humanitarian Award.
There will also be two stimulating workshops during the day of the Gala (admission free with purchase of a Gala ticket): Business, Law and Real Estate, and Media/Journalism and the Arts with featured panelists John Catsimatidis, Mike Emanuel, Dennis Mehiel, Academy Award Winner Olympia Dukakis, John Aniston from the Days of Our Lives, Frank Dicopoulos from Guiding Light, CBS Anchor Alexis Christoforous, attorney Peter Kakoyiannis, and fashion designer Joanna Mastroianni.
Nick Katsoris credits the success of the Gala to all who have supported the HTSF, saying that adding that without that support “there would be no Gala and without the Gala, no scholarships”.
The funds for the scholarships awarded are raised principally through the journal, raffle, and the generosity of the members of the community and the corporations who purchase tables for an evening that so many look forward to as a time to see friends, dance, see some celebrities, enjoy a sumptuous banquet, and generally have a terrific time while promoting the future of Greek America’s youth.
And while the money granted to them is of utmost importance to the students for their future, the recognition they receive in this once-in-a-lifetime evening is something they will remember throughout their careers. The HTSF experience doesn’t end for them at the Gala, either; they are provided with ongoing encouragement and networking opportunities.
$.94 out of every dollar raised from the purchase of tables by members of the community and corporations, the Gala journal, the Gala raffle, and donations, go directly to the HTSF scholarships, with only 6 cents out of every dollar going toward operating expenses.
Don’t think for a moment that putting together all of this and a smoothly running Gala come easy. For Margo Catsimatidis and Nick Katsoris, Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund President and Dinner Chairman, it’s a commitment of a year’s time…every year. For instance, the cycle begins with the preparation of 1,000 and more new scholarship applications, the choice of Honorees, and countless other arrangements for the celebration. Catsimatidis and Katsoris may take a breather for a couple of days after the Gala is over, but maybe not, because there’s a ton of follow-up work to be done: thank you letters to send and pledges to collect before the cycle begins all over again.
Let’s all support this very worthwhile effort even more strongly this year. Margo Catsimatidis summed up the success of the HTSF succinctly at last year’s Gala when she said, “To those of you who have contributed big dollars for twenty years: you have seen the results because we have gotten results. The students here tonight have set their goals on achieving the American dream of a great education. We applaud and honor them for the sacrifices in making their dreams a reality.”
For details visit www.htsf.org or call 212-986-6881